Robot Surgery

A significant number of oropharyngeal tumours are in difficult to reach places and have conservatively been operated on by splitting the lower jaw and prizing the two parts apart (a bit of an oversimplification here, but humour me). As you can imagine this causes much post operative pain and disfigurement and results in longer recovery and convalescent times. Transoral Robotic Surgery TORS uses a machine operated by the surgeon to reach where hands cannot through the open mouth. Recovery is swift and morbidity low. Surgery by surgeon operated robot is not new and has been available in some centres for a number of years now, but only in a selective number. It’s expensive and needs training but in some aspects it is more accurate than a human clinician’s “naked begloved fingers”. Cardiff University has a Da Vinci robot which has been used for prostate surgery for five years now and today there was a piece on the BBC News to announce that they are making it available for Head and Neck cancer patients. This is brilliant news and something to celebrate.

Da Vinci Robot

Published by Dani Akrigg

I'm 68 in 2019. Retired Veterinary Surgeon

6 thoughts on “Robot Surgery

  1. The consultant I saw at the Royal London was one of the UK’s leading surgeon in robotics, but unfortunately as my cancer had spread from my tonsils, he was able to operate on me. He looked genuinely disappointed! But as you pointed out, the possibilities to prevent disfigurement and other complications is great.


  2. I guess the robotic machine was not available in London for us, or the surgeon didnt know how to use it or my husband s tumour was not suitable. We ll never know. Mandibulotomy is a rough experience. Nerves are cut. Lots of consequences. Looks are recovering a bit now (a year on). Food is limited to soups. Souuup, glorious souuup ! Yawn. Immunotherapy now. It won’t be said we didn’t try everything.


    1. Hi Isabelle. I can’t wish your husband well enough. He is a very brave man to have undergone such drastic surgery. I Don’t know whether I could do it. I know the Royal Marsden have a Robotic suite so maybe his tumour just wasn’t reachable this way.
      There have been remarkable results with pembrolizumab giving people not only years of comfortable life but remission.
      Please pass on my hopes for his recovery and for your peace of mind.


  3. That’s what was intended for me, but the tumour was just that bit too far down for the robot to get to without all my teeth being extracted, so radiotherapy it had to be.


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